Sports physicals are a cinch with Providence ExpressCare

August 17, 2022 Providence Express Care


In this article:

  • If your child needs a sports physical, Providence ExpressCare is available to help you get it finished on time.

  • Sports physicals include two major components — medical history and a physical examination.

  • Your provider will check your child’s physical and mental health and follow up on any chronic conditions to make sure they are safe to play sports.

Amid the hustle and bustle of back-to-school preparations, millions of parents across the United States are making last-minute phone calls to their providers for sports physicals. There are many people who need to find an appointment before a certain date, so extra options with less hassle can be extremely helpful.

If you’re a parent with an endless to-do list, don’t fret — Providence ExpressCare can help you knock one of those items off with physicals for athletes high school age and younger who are preparing for sports season either at their school or in the community. We accept most insurance and have extended evening and weekend hours so you can get the care you need when you need it.

What happens during a sports physical?

If your child has been playing school sports for years, you are probably well acquainted with the components of a sports physical. But if not, here’s a primer for what information to bring with you:

Medical history form

Medical history questions are usually on a form you can complete at home or right before your office visit:

  • Family history of certain diseases
  • Chronic medical problems or recurring illnesses, such as uncontrolled asthma
  • Allergies
  • Medications the athlete is taking, including prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and dietary supplements
  • Previous hospitalizations or surgeries
  • Past injuries, including concussions, sprains, and broken bones

Physical examination

During the actual visit, the provider will ask your child questions about their health, diet and any problems they have experienced while playing sports. Make sure your child is aware that they will also be asking questions about potentially embarrassing subjects, such as testicle pain for boys; frequency, duration, and intensity of periods for girls; and smoking, vaping, drug and alcohol use, and steroid use.

The physical examination also will include checks of your child’s:

  • Height and weight
  • Blood pressure
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Heart and lungs
  • Muscles, bones, and joints

“During a sports physical, young athletes may want to ask specific questions about their training regimen and what would be a healthy way to improve in their sport,” said Marina Sarwary, MS, PA-C, medical director of ExpressCare California for Providence. “This is their opportunity to gain medical guidance that can help them stay healthy while training in an athletic environment.”

It should be noted that a sports physical is not intended to replace an annual physical or well-check with your child’s pediatrician. The main goal is to make sure that your child is healthy enough to play sports.

Why are sports physicals important?

It might seem like a sports physical is just another box you have to check so your child can participate in the activities they love. But in reality, such a physical can detect certain conditions that could be dangerous or even fatal if you don’t address them.

Heart health

While sudden cardiac deaths are rare in young athletes, they usually receive a lot of publicity because they involve seemingly healthy, active teenagers or pre-teens. Sports physicals include questions about conditions relating to an athlete’s heart health. The idea is to identify any potential red flags before the athlete encounters an emergency on the field or court.

Mental health

Children and adolescents struggle with mental health issues, just like adults do. Athletes in particular experience a lot of pressure that could lead to mental health problems. A sports physical is an opportunity to identify any underlying depression, anxiety or other mental health issues that could impair a young person’s ability to not only perform in their chosen sport, but also balance the pressures of academics and life. “Our providers are used to working with athletes and are able to identify risk factors that could contribute to mental issues,” said Sarwary. “We often find that just having an open conversation with the child can help.”

Female athlete health concerns

The female athlete triad refers to some problems girls can have with menstrual health, bone health, and the number of calories they consume. Sometimes, just by asking the right questions, a provider can learn valuable information that can help the female athlete seek treatment for other problems. For example, some girls experience delayed or missing periods. This can often be the result of extreme physical activity, and they should be seeing a health care provider about this issue.

Concussions and head injuries

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are major concerns for athletes — especially young athletes whose brains are still developing. For adolescents and teenagers who have previously had concussions, a sports physical at the beginning of the season is an opportunity to check in and make sure they have healed completely. “There are some young people who may still suffer from headaches, trouble sleeping, and trouble concentrating after a concussion,” said Sarwary. “Their provider will help them determine the best treatment — and when they can safely return to their sport.” 

Be prepared

Look at it this way: A sports physical is a chance for your child to have a medical expert focus specifically on them and the sport they love to do. Take advantage of it! Be sure to come with a list of questions about conditioning, healthy eating, and anything else you are both concerned about.

About Providence ExpressCare

Providence ExpressCare was created to make quality care more affordable, accessible, and enjoyable for all. Combining technology with compassionate care, Providence ExpressCare treats a variety of conditions in your area, seven days a week, 365 days a year, with easy scheduling and uncomplicated billing. Book an appointment today at ExpressCare.

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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.

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